Brian Epstein was gay, Jewish, and from Liverpool—none of which, in 1961, made him the ideal candidate to turn a group of four teenage rabble-rousers into an international sensation. But he did, and with the release of The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story (Dark Horse), a new graphic novel constructed from interviews with his friends and associates, the Beatles’ late manager is front and center for the first time.
“It was the human side of his story that caught me—the struggles he faced, primarily because of his homosexuality,” says writer Vivek J. Tiwary, a lifelong Beatles fan and Broadway producer. “He saw that there was a global message of love in the Beatles. But the tragic side of it is that he didn’t really get to enjoy that.”
The book begins with Epstein’s discovery of the band and ends with his overdose in 1967. One particularly excellent strip, by artist Andrew C. Robinson, captures Epstein and John Lennon on a 1963 vacation in Spain, the holiday many believe led to the consummation of their intense friendship.
Tiwary doubts anything happened between the two — Epstein saw “his boys” more as brothers or sons — but the conversation (featured above), in which they talk openly about Epstein’s attraction to men, is based in reality. Next up: a film version of the novel, set to begin shooting next year.
The Fifth Beatle is available now. Watch the trailer below: